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Friday, May 12, 2017

Tax Cuts Are Theft. | gadflyonthewallblog

Tax Cuts Are Theft. | gadflyonthewallblog:

Tax Cuts Are Theft.

Ben Franklin famously said that nothing is certain in this world except death and taxes.
But in our modern age, that might have to be amended to read, “death and tax cuts.”
These days, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle can’t figure out how to govern without continually cutting taxes – and invariably the beneficiaries of such largess are the rich.
No one likes paying taxes.
You do a job, earn money and have to give a portion of it to the government.
But no one likes going to the dentist, either. Yet it’s something most adults do because we understand its necessity. We know that ignoring basic dental hygiene and avoiding regular dental check-ups will most likely result in halitosis, mouth pain and the eventual decay of our teeth.
There are similar societal problems with tax avoidance, but we’ve been tricked into willful ignorance.
The rich have paid for an army of economists, libertarians and other would-be thinkers to come up with justifications for avoiding taxation as much as possible.
It’s completely disingenuous. This is prostitution as philosophy. It’s whoring out one’s mental faculties to come up with a smoke screen behind which the wealthy can get away without paying their fair share.
The idea basically comes down to this: taxation is theft.
The government has no right to tax its citizens because its only gets rights from the consent of the governed. People can only give the government rights they already Tax Cuts Are Theft. | gadflyonthewallblog:

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New Sacramento City schools chief outlines his course to pursue | The Sacramento Bee

New Sacramento City schools chief outlines his course to pursue | The Sacramento Bee:

New Sac City schools chief outlines his course to pursue

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As I embark on leading critical work for the students, staff and families of Sacramento City Unified School District, the responsibility reminds me of my own educational journey that brought me to this juncture.
My journey started as a child working alongside my parents in the fields picking grapes. This is where my core values stem from being the eldest son of farm working parents and the first in my family to attend college. I understand the challenges faced by many students and families throughout our region.
As a child, my family moved to and from Parlier and Tanganc√≠cuaro, Michoac√°n, M√©xico. I was inspired to pursue higher education, despite my family’s lack of understanding of the college-going process, after attending the Chicano-Latino Youth Leadership Project in Sacramento during high school.
During that period of my life, my father was incarcerated and my mother was unable to overcome the legal challenges we faced. That experience would later serve as my underlying motivation to pursue a law degree. I attended law school in the evening while teaching at South Gate High School in the day.
Years later, my father was detained and placed in deportation proceedings. Fortunately, my education allowed our family to navigate and overcome those legal challenges and successfully fight to end those proceedings. Today, my father is a United States citizen.
Throughout my career as high school teacher and a K-12 and higher education administrator, I have been dedicated to giving all students an equal opportunity to graduate with the greatest number of postsecondary choices from the widest array of options.
In Fresno Unified, this guiding principle resulted in, among other things, graduation rates rising from 69 percent to 85.4 percent while college eligibility rates and A-G completion rates rose from 25 percent to over 49 percent since 2009. To achieve these outcomes, we established a culture focused on responding to students by providing appropriate academic and socio-emotional supports. Equally important, we established genuine partnerships with other K-12 and higher education, advocacy, civic and business partners because we could not have achieved these results on our own.
“Equity and Access” was never a standalone initiative in Fresno Unified, nor will it be in this district. It will be the backbone of our work. Here is how we will pursue this work:
▪  We will collaborate with and support our teachers to provide great teaching;
▪  We will treat data with ultimate respect because behind every numerator is a child, and it’s our responsibility to parents and guardians to know each child by name and need;
▪  We will focus greater attention on the outcomes we are producing than the outcomes we talk about wanting to achieve;
▪  We will not view external circumstances as limiting factors for our students, but instead treat them as assets to help them reach their dreams;
▪  We will seek to change conditions for students in the present as opposed to lamenting what could have been done when data are not continuously monitored or used to “prove” rather than “improve.”
The district’s core values of equity, achievement, integrity and accountability set the foundation for a smooth transition to begin my tenure as a community member and your superintendent.
I look forward to collectively addressing the challenges our students face in order to increase academic achievement. Thank you for choosing me to be your superintendent as we take this journey together in making Sacramento City Unified a choice destination for residents throughout California.
Jorge A. Aguilar is the newly appointed superintendent of Sacramento City Unified School District. He served as special assistant to the chancellor and associate vice chancellor for educational and community partnerships at UC Merced, associate superintendent for equity and access at Fresno Unified School District, and adjunct faculty at California State University, Fresno. He can be contacted at
New Sacramento City schools chief outlines his course to pursue | The Sacramento Bee:

Freed from regulations by Trump administration, state education board unveils the 'California Way' - LA Times

Freed from regulations by Trump administration, state education board unveils the 'California Way' - LA Times:

Freed from regulations by Trump administration, state education board unveils the 'California Way'

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Patricia Rucker started tearing up, and the room fell silent.
“I’ve been a member of this board for six years,” she said Wednesday at a meeting of the California State Board of Education. “But I’ve been an African American woman for far longer.”
The charged moment came during a presentation of a draft plan called “The California Way” on how the state plans to satisfy the relatively loose requirements of the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Obama-era replacement for the earlier No Child Left Behind Act.
Where No Child used a stringent system to reward and punish schools for their performance on test scores, ESSA, as it's known, gives states much more leeway in deciding how to hold schools and districts accountable for their students’ progress.
With the Trump administration in office — and an Education secretary who insists that states and school districts do much of the decision-making — states will get even more freedom than they had expected. Trump in March signed a bill that trashed Obama's ESSA rules.
Both Rucker and fellow board member Feliza Ortiz-Licon suggested that if the state failed to make firm commitments to progress anyway, some students would continue to be shortchanged.
The performance gap between students of different races, said Ortiz-Licon, is a California problem, not a question of complying with federal policy. “These are California students that are not performing in California schools, and it happens to be the same students over and over again,” she said.
She and Rucker took the board to task for talking around the achievement gap, which they view as the central problem in California’s schools. Rucker said she sees students who look like her constantly failing, and suggested that the board’s discussion focused on schools that serve the privileged.
“There’s nothing wrong with public education if you happen to live in an affluent Freed from regulations by Trump administration, state education board unveils the 'California Way' - LA Times:

Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no. - The Washington Post

Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no. - The Washington Post:

Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no.

Every U.S. education secretary has found time to address the Education Writers Association convention, and the organization was hoping that Betsy DeVos would agree to do the same thing at its 2017 convention in Washington D.C. It’s not happening.
Caroline Hendrie, EWA executive editor, said the association invited DeVos to speak at the convention right after she was confirmed by the Senate as education secretary on Feb. 7 (which, you may remember, happened only after Mike Pence broke a tie in the Senate, becoming the first vice president in history to do so for a Cabinet nominee).
When no response was forthcoming, Hendrie said the invitation was renewed several times, but it was not until late April that a staff member at the Education Department called to decline. Why? According to Hendrie, “They couldn’t make it work for her schedule.”
The Education Department did not respond to a query about why they couldn’t make it work.
The conference, at the new FutureEd think tank at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, is scheduled for May 31-June 2, Wednesday through Friday. Though DeVos does not often have public events on Fridays, she does on Wednesdays and Thursdays.
DeVos has not made herself easily available — or available at all — to reporters who are covering her, and the Education Department does not always respond to questions posed by education journalists. Now she is declining an opportunity to address the journalists who cover her.  Some would call that a missed opportunity.

Little bit of Betsy DeVos scheduling news in @edwriters seminar update. A bummer!
Betsy DeVos was asked to address education reporters at their annual convention. She said no. - The Washington Post:

Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason. Or two. Or three | Douglas Williams | Opinion | The Guardian

Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason. Or two. Or three | Douglas Williams | Opinion | The Guardian:

Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason. Or two. Or three

The US secretary of education faced jeers when she spoke at Bethune-Cookman University. And rightly so

Image result for big education ape Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason

There are many reasons why one might jeer Betsy DeVos, the US education secretary. Perhaps you find her advocacy for guns in schools due to the ever present grizzly threat to be credulous. Maybe you think that her advocacy for charter schools – and the deleterious effects that these have had in her home state of Michigan – is worthy of complaint. Or maybe what gets your goat is DeVos’s support for vouchers, which takes public money and allows it to be used for tuition at private institutions.
If you are a student at a historically black college or university (HBCU), however, what is likely the most galling to you was a comment made by DeVos a couple of months ago. After meeting with leaders of HBCUs at the White House, DeVos released a statement:

HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice. They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish.
The sitting education secretary of the United States of America seriously put out a statement equating the creation of colleges and universities that were designed to maintain state-sanctioned segregation to the present-day debate over “school choice” in the form of vouchers and charter schools. It is a sentiment that is breathtaking in its ignorance, but given the context of the White House administration that DeVos serves, perhaps not so much.
It is in this context that we should place what happened at Bethune-Cookman University on Wednesday. There, DeVos was booed heavily as she, shockingly, was awarded an honorary doctorate from the institution. The booing was so loud that Bethune-Cookman president Edison Jackson admonished the crowd, threatening them with the cancellation of the event. He explained the motives of awarding DeVos and inviting her to be the commencement speaker:

We have always been in the business of making friends, and if you don’t have friends, it’s very difficult to raise money. Her department controls roughly 80% of Title IV monies, as well as grants. So why wouldn’t we want to make friends?
There are many ways that a college or university could “make friends” in order to “raise money” that do not involve inviting someone so ignorant of recent history in the US to address students at an event that they have worked hard toward for years.
After all, it is why institutions of higher education have departments of government relations, including Bethune-Cookman. And one certainly does not Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason. Or two. Or three | Douglas Williams | Opinion | The Guardian:

Image result for big education ape Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason
Image result for big education ape Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason
Image result for big education ape Betsy DeVos is booed for a reason

Betsy Gets A Voucher: School choice? Let's try good choices, Secretary DeVos

School choice? Let's try good choices, Secretary DeVos:

School choice, Secretary DeVos? Let's try good choices

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When graduating students at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida booed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos earlier this week, she seemed genuinely dismayed, asking students to listen to her as they hoped she'd listen to them, urging them to strive for a "mind-set of grace."
DeVos' commencement speech at the historically black university was controversial from the outset. A few months back, DeVos had lauded historically black colleges and universities as "pioneers of school choice," a really wacky way of looking at institutions formed in response to discrimination. 
She later apologized, but that's the kind of disconnect that has characterized DeVos' tenure in education. And that's the kind of disconnect that blinds DeVos to the idea that Bethune graduates might boo, or turn their backs on her, precisely because they'd listened to her message.
DeVos' ostensible qualifications to lead the U.S. Department of Education arise from her long advocacy for school choice, a lobby that, here in Michigan, she and members of her family largely created and funded. DeVos seems to genuinely believe that school choice is a boon for kids trapped in failing, urban school districts, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. While charter schools deliver marginally better, albeit uneven, results than traditional public schools, the promise behind the creation of charter schools was that they'd offer tremendously better choices. They haven't. 
And DeVos' munificence has its limits. Her long advocacy for school vouchers, for example, is aimed at funneling tax dollars to private or parochial schools; the charter schools she has backed proliferate and operate largely free of consequence for abysmal outcomes, and the schools-of-choice programs her supporters embrace have too often shuffled students from one low-performing school to another.
Traditional public schools — “government-run,” in DeVos’ parlance — haven't been subject to the same policy focus as charters, or enjoyed as much no-strings public funding.
During her U.S. Senate confirmation hearing, DeVos conceded only that she wouldn't work to dismantle traditional public schools; support didn't enter the equation. And nowhere in her deep-pocketed history as a campaign donor has DeVos worked to shape policy that would improve traditional public schools.  
And that, you have to think, is not lost on students at a historically black college or university. 
African Americans won equal access to the nation's public schools only after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1954  that barring black kids from public schools they'd helped pay for wasn't constitutional. Still, it took the U.S. National Guard to enforce integration, cuing a white exodus from any school that enrolled a significant number of black kids — as in metro Detroit, where city schools are almost exclusively black, and suburban schools are almost exclusively white.
An analysis undertaken last year by Bridge Magazine found that when black kids enroll in suburban, predominantly white schools via the state's schools-of-choice program, which allows kids to school-hop across district boundaries, white kids leave, using the same program to travel to whiter districts nearby.
Strong public schools, offering sound education to every American, regardless of race, creed or color, should be the cornerstone of American democracy. When they're failing, we should shore them up — and if we offer alternatives, like charters or schools of choice — results should be better. 
The kinds of school-choice options DeVos has made a career of embracing don’t help the traditional public schools that educate most Americans, the same schools African Americans fought and bled to access. It's a never-ending game of educational keep-away, where the best education is always just out of reach for some Americans. 
There are choices, and then there are good choices — ones that led to superior outcomes. Which sort is DeVos peddling? I'm pretty sure any Bethune graduate could tell you. 
Contact Nancy Kaffer:

Friendly Friday Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all

Diane Ravitch's blog | A site to discuss better education for all:

Friendly Friday Diane Ravitch's blog
 A site to discuss better education for all
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Jeff Murray of Fordham Institute: Do English Teachers Have a Responsibility for Students’ Vocational Training?

Jeff Murray is the Ohio operations manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s offices in Columbus. He read an essay by a high school English teacher who was offended by Governor John Kasich’s proposal that teachers should be required to 

Andy Borowitz: An Impeachment Shocker (SATIRE)

Andy Borowitz has the latest news about the prospects for Trump’s impeachment.

L.A. Times Endorses Trump-DeVos Ticket for School Board

I was curious to see whether the L.A. Times editorial board would stand up for public education or would join the chorus of privatization and greed. Would the editorial board be offended that billionaires are swamping the district with 

Los Angeles: Outside Money Continues to Pour in to Buy Control of LA School Board for Charter Industry

If you live in Los Angeles in one of the districts where there is a run-off, please vote for Steve Zimmer or Imelda Padilla. Don’t let the billionaires buy control of the public schools. They don’t want to improve them. They want to turn them 

Gary Rubinstein: Rick Hess is the Reformer Who Thinks

Gary Rubinstein read Rick Hess’s latest book, “Letters to a Young Education Reformer” and found much to admire, even though Gary is one of the most perceptive critics of what is now called “reform.” He writes: “I was eager to receive Rick Hess’s latest book ‘letters to a young education reformer.’ Hess is the director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a conse
Sue M. Legg: Charters Bomb in Florida

The Florida Department of Education, firmly in the hands of the Jeb Bush team, tried to spin the “success” of the charter industry, but Sue M. Legg of the League of Women Voters in Florida says, “Not so fast.” In this post, she explains that charter schools enroll a lower percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced lunch, of English language learners, and of students with disabilities
Andrea Gabor: Why Are the Few Veteran Teachers of New Orleans Demoralized?

Andrea Gabor reviews research produced by the Education Research Alliance of New Orleans about veteran teachers, those who taught before Hurricane Katrina and returned. “ERA’s analysis provides an important before-and-after-the-storm glimpse of the city’s schools from a unique perspective—the small group of pre-Katrina teachers who returned to teaching following the storm, and who have remained i


Trump’s Amazing Interview with “The Economist”

I promise you, I am really trying not to post about Trump. Some articles, however, are too compelling to pass up. This is one of them. The latest Trump interview once again reveals appalling ignorance and dishonesty – Vox
Politico: DeVos Makes Some Political Appointments

Politico reports: Ed Department has made about three dozen political hires By Caitlin Emma 05/11/2017 12:45 PM EDT The Trump administration has made about three dozen political appointments to the Education Department, according to a list obtained by POLITICO through a Freedom of Information Act request. That’s about a quarter of the agency’s 150 political vacancies. Some of the job titles on the
Rev. Barber Plans to Lead National Movement

The inspirational leader Rev. William Barber 11 is stepping down from his post as chair of the North Carolina NAACP to launch a national movement. His strong voice for moral strength, equal rights, dignity, courage in the face of adversity, and love is needed more than ever today.
Bret Wooten Asks Some Important Questions about Our National Investment in Education

Bret Wooten, a businessman in a small town in Texas, sent this letter to newspaper in the state. He asks whether we really care about our future if we neglect our most important investment: Our children. He previously posted his reaction to visiting his wife’s classroom. Are you concerned about the future of this country? Me too, but not in the way most people seem to be. We as a nation are willi
Sue M. Legg: Florida’s Budget Bill is a Train Wreck for Public Schools, a Boon for Charter Operators

Here we go with the Great Money Heist in Florida. HB7069 passed both houses of the legislature and will go to Governor Rick Scott for his signature. In two posts , Sue M. Legg of the League of Women Voters analyzes the devastating impact of this budget bill for public schools. She hopes that Governor Scott will veto the bill. As she explains, money is being shifted to charter organizations and ta
Bianca Tanis: A Teacher Visits a Montessori Classroom and Loves It

Bianca Tanis teaches a combined kindergarten-first grade special education class in the Hudson Valley in New York. She is on the board of New York State Allies for Public Education, the group leading the campaign against high-stakes testing and privatization in the state. She writes: I had the opportunity to spend the day visiting a public Montessori school in Kingston yesterday. I have been cons
The Best Shout-Out to the Graduates of Bethune-Cookman, Class of 2017

Blogger Luvvie Ajayi salutes Bethune-Cookman’s graduates for standing up against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos , a woman with zero understanding of their lives or the life of Mary McLeod Bethune. She writes, “Thank You for Telling Betsy DeVos ‘Nah.'” She writes: “Y’all are the real MVPs. Really and truly. I am applauding you with the fervor I’d use during praise and worship right now. You kn
Georgia: Governor Deal Vetoes Legislation to Allow Opt Out from Testing

Rightwing corporate reformers like to go on and on about parental choice. Choice. Choice. Choice. The one choice they will not tolerate is parents who want their children to refuse the state tests. No choice! Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia vetoed a bill that would make it easier to parents to opt their children out of state standardized tests. He also blocked the possibility of students taking t
Audrey Amrein-Beardsley: The Top Ten Research-Based Reasons Why Standardized Tests Should NOT Be Used to Evaluate Teachers

The value-added assessment model that was forced on states by Arne Duncan’s Race to the Top is starting to fall apart, in the courts and in the experience of every state compelled to use it. In this post, evaluation expert Audrey Amrein-Beardsley explains the top ten reasons why large scale, standardized tests should not be used to evaluate teachers. She faced off against the rightwing National C
Alan Singer: How New Are New York’s New Standards?

Alan Singer writes that the real test of the state’s new standard s will happen in the classroom. The proof of the pudding, he writes, is in the eating, not in what is said or written about it. He warns that the whole process may be tainted if the current testing regime remains in place. And he worries that the state aims to quash the opt out movement, which is the only public voice and which com
As New York Rebrands Its Common Core Standards, What’s in a Name?

Newsday offers an amusing reflection on the change in the name of the Common Core state standards, which became toxic and set off the powerful opt out movement across the state, and especially on Long Island (which Newsday serves). In the last round of state testing, 50% of the eligible students on Long Island opted out of the English Language Arts state test, and 54% on Long Island opted out of

New York: Common Core Standards Get a New Name!

In response to years of protests against the Common Core standards, the State Education Department has tweaked them, massaged them, tickled them, and given them a new name. The New York state standards are now “the Next